OSSINING, N.Y. – Westchester residents typically need to travel nearly two hours to experience New Jersey-based dairy farmer John White’s cheese. But on Wednesday night, White came to Ossining to show local cheese enthusiasts how to do it themselves.
John White gave a cheese making demonstration Wednesday night as the featured guest in Ossining’s Community MarketsMeet The Farmer series that spotlights local farmers and vendors. There are no dairy farms in Westchester County. The Whites’ Bobolink Dairy Farm in Milford, N.J. is not only one of the closest to Westchester, but is also a regular at Ossining’s Farmers’ Market.
Through Bobolink Dairy, the Whites also promote the idea of “grass-based and healthy” dairy farming. John White said their website cowsoutside.com is more than just a name.
“When we say cows outside we mean it,” White said. “All of our cows live outside. Our barn is a bakery. That’s how we get the cheese that we do.”
Frankie Rowland, marketing director at Community Markets, said it’s vital that residents learn farming techniques and get to know the local farmers.
“The basis of our business is to support local agriculture and provide opportunities for consumers and farmers to interact,” Rowland said. “People want to know the farmer and want to know what their lives are like. And people should be able to ask the farmers who make their food about how it’s done. So the series helps them do that and makes it more intimate.”
Rowland said the idea becomes more important in densely-populated areas like Westchester.
“Westchester is very limited when it comes to farming. Because of that, it’s a little harder to become familiar with what is locally available,” she said. “It’s also important for kids to know where their food comes from. If you ask most kids that live in the city where it comes from, they’ll say it comes from the supermarket. So a lot of what we do is trying to get everyone familiar with that whole process and not just rely on the supermarket.”
Ossining resident David Montague said shopping locally was important not just for the economy but for his health.
“I’m worried about my cholesterol and dropping dead of a heart attack. But I love cheese,” he said. “So I wanted to learn more about it and I think getting it locally could be the start to eating more healthy. But I also want it locally because I don’t want to see Ossining to turn into a parking lot.”
Maureen Morgan, a member of Transition Ossining and the Green Ossining Committee, said residents learning farming techniques is going to become more popular.
“Meeting the farmer is great but coming away with knowledge you can actually use in our kitchen is really exciting,” Morgan said. “If you’re not making it yourself, getting it locally is very important. It grows jobs and I think that’s not a small thing to consider. The closer the economy is to home the better it is for everyone.”